Male pattern baldness is a very common type of hair loss that affects people assigned male at birth. There are seven stages of male pattern baldness. The early stages usually start in your 30s, but some people have signs as early as their late teens. Treatments include medications, a hair transplant, platelet-rich plasma and styling techniques.
Male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) is a type of hair loss that affects people assigned male at birth (AMAB). It causes you to lose hair on the skin covering your head (scalp), and your hair doesn’t grow back. Other signs of male-pattern baldness include thinning hair and a hairline that moves farther back on your head (receding hairline).
There are seven stages of male pattern baldness according to the Hamilton-Norwood scale:
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Male pattern baldness can affect anyone assigned male at birth.
However, male pattern baldness affects people differently based on their ethnic heritage. You’re more likely to have male pattern baldness if you’re white, followed by Afro-Caribbean. You’re less likely to experience male pattern baldness if you’re of Chinese or Japanese descent. Male pattern baldness doesn’t typically affect Native American, First Nations and Alaska Native peoples.
You’re more likely to have male pattern baldness if you have a family history of it. If your grandfather, father or brothers have male pattern baldness, your odds of having it are higher.
If your mother’s father (maternal grandfather) has male pattern baldness, there’s a good chance that you’ll have male pattern baldness as well. However, there may be a link between male pattern baldness and your father. If your father is bald, you’re twice as likely to have male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness affects two-thirds of all people assigned male at birth, and your odds of experiencing some hair loss increase with age.
Male pattern baldness causes the small depressions in your scalp at the base of your hairs (hair follicles) to gradually shrink, often in a specific pattern. As your hair follicles shrink, your individual hairs get thinner and shorter. Over time, those hairs stop growing at all.
Male pattern baldness doesn’t affect your physical health. However, it can affect you psychosocially (how society and social groups affect your thoughts and emotions) and psychologically (how you think about yourself and your behavior). You may experience emotional stress, anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of male pattern baldness include:
Male pattern baldness doesn’t hurt. Many start to notice the early stages of male pattern baldness by their 30s, but they may begin as early as your late teenage years or early 20s.
Hair loss on your crown usually appears in a circular shape. A receding hairline often occurs in an “M” shape. As you continue to lose hair, hair loss around your crown and temples may meet to form a “U” shape.
The following factors contribute to male pattern baldness:
No, male pattern baldness isn’t contagious.
Male pattern baldness is easy to recognize, so you don’t necessarily need a healthcare provider to diagnose it. However, your healthcare provider can confirm it during a physical exam of your scalp. They’ll ask you about your medical history, including when you started noticing hair loss and whether you have a family history of male pattern baldness. They’ll note the shape of your hairline and any areas showing signs of thinning or balding.
Your healthcare provider may use a special tool called a densitometer to examine your scalp. A densitometer measures the thickness of your hair follicles.
If your healthcare provider suspects your hair loss isn’t related to male pattern baldness, they may:
Hair loss treatments include:
Minoxidil may take two to four months of daily use before you notice any improvement in your hair loss. Finasteride may take at least three months of daily use before you notice any improvement. If you stop using either medication, your regrown hair will fall out.
A hair transplant usually takes at least three weeks to recover. It may take up to a year before you see the full results. You may need several “touch-up” hair transplant surgeries to achieve a natural-looking result.
Platelet-rich plasma injections usually take at least three weeks to recover. You may need more injections to maintain your results.
Medical researchers and healthcare providers don’t know of any way to prevent male pattern baldness. However, there are ways to help keep your hair healthy that may promote hair growth, including:
Many people with male pattern baldness think it’s part of the aging process and are comfortable with how it looks. However, your healthcare provider can help slow or replace your hair loss.
Many people choose not to see a healthcare provider if they have male pattern baldness. However, if you’d like to maintain your hair, you should call your healthcare provider as soon as you notice hair loss on your scalp.
Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that involves rapid shedding of hair over a short period. It typically happens a few months after your body goes through something physically or emotionally stressful. It can also result from sudden hormonal changes. Hair loss due to telogen effluvium is usually temporary, and your hair often grows back without treatment once you no longer have stress.
Male pattern baldness is a type of hair loss that’s more gradual than telogen effluvium. It’s not known exactly what causes male pattern baldness. Without medications or treatment, hair loss due to male pattern baldness is permanent.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Male pattern baldness is a common condition that affects most people assigned male at birth as they age. Many people that have male pattern baldness accept it as part of the aging process and don’t see a healthcare provider. However, it can negatively affect your mental health. Reach out to your healthcare provider as soon as you notice signs of male pattern baldness, especially if it causes stress, anxiety or depression. Medications and treatments are available that can stop or reverse it.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/09/2022.
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